Cultural heritage and society 5.0

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Article by Anna Ochmann

The concept of society 5.0 assumes that advanced technology will be used to solve everyday problems and promote a person-centered society. This idea was initiated in Japan in 2016 [1] [2]. It is becoming more and more popular as  technology progresses and has also started an area of ​​research interest also in Poland [3]). The original definition of society 5.0 points to “A human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space.” This concept is a response to a number of challenges that we are facing both as individuals and as communities. These challenges are related to ecology (e.g. the climate crisis), to the need to redefining economic models (e.g. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or an ageing population) and etc. A new approach to cultural heritage is required together with redefinition of the existing practices. The reason for this is because cultural contexts and cultural capital based on heritage have a significant impact on the social, economic, cultural and technological development of modern societies at individual, collective or institutional levels.

 

Currently artists are experimenting more and more boldly with artificial intelligence (AI), virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in their works. They are reaching more and more often for elements from biological, biotechnological or ecology sciences. They are experimenting with generative arts, bioart, 3D mapping, works controlled by brain waves. Dematerialism is listed as one of an artistic trends of the future in which an impression or feeling instead of material object becomes art. Yet today cultural heritage seems to remain based on a more traditional functional model.

 

This traditional model for the protection of monuments and works of art or widely understood ‘heritage asset’ is still usually primarily based on specialized conservation services, on administrative decisions, which are often  arbitrary, taken by centralised bodies and public services. This model is slowly being replaced by a more participatory approach, that takes into account the opinions of various social groups and the need to publicly justify decisions. Technology is becoming an ally in these processes. On one hand museums and cultural institutions are increasingly turning to technology to present their resources and exhibits, a process which has been greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual galleries are gaining popularity, for instance exhibitions offered by the Louvre [4] or the National Gallery of London, also such diverse initiatives as Culture chez nous [5] ,,Occupy White Walls (OWW) [6] or VSMS [7], not to mention the possibilities (and use) of Google Arts & Culture. The use of technology to protect and present heritage is also more and more often the area for ​​scientific research, of which the Cypriot CYENS Centre of Excellence (previously known as RISE) is an interesting example [8]. Analysing the needs of society 5.0 can help us to redefine and accelerate the process of this inevitable change.

 

‘The Heritage Cycle’ model, defined in 2005, suggests how we can better use the past to build the future [9], but it seems that a further step should also be taken. This is because of the need to balance the preserving of our heritage with the need for sustainable development for the future in economic and environmental contexts. Thus, the key concept in thinking about heritage should be ‘change management’ [10] and the aim is to preserve important informational, symbolic, integrative, aesthetic and economic values contained in cultural heritage as factors of sustainable regional or local development, providing protection and popularization of heritage [11] .

 

The concept of ‘post-digital’ art [12], which refers to the humanization of digital technology (the interaction between digital, biological, cultural and spiritual systems) may be an inspiration to define a new paradigm for the protection and use of cultural heritage in society 5.0. It could be an inspiration for analysing the interaction between real space and cyberspace or virtual space, between advanced technologies and the involvement of personal attention (called “high touch experience”). This interaction also occurs between locality and globalization, between self-reflection, personal experience, and wide cultural, political, social meanings and narratives.

 

Progress in technology, data digitalisation, the possibility of transforming physical into digital data, storing information and making it available also gives completely new opportunities in areas related to cultural heritage, both as regards its protection and presentation. It also defines new challenges for those responsible for these processes in developing the necessary an inter- and transdisciplinary competences, knowledge and skills.

My personal areas of interests are focused the use of heritage (mainly post-industrial) in cultural activities and on the development of competences of employees in the cultural and creative sector (including legal, management, organizational issues, etc.). My artistic education and specialization in exhibition design which include cognitive and design processes and art history and my many years of professional and research experience have encourage me to look at the conditions needed to develop cultural heritage in the context of society 5.0. How can we define the challenges related to preservation and access to heritage with the help of autonomous and advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), big data or the sharing economy. What are the potential needs, challenges and path for development.

 

It seems to be important to focus on the reformulation (or formulation) of the possibilities of the use of modern technologies to preserve and manage cultural heritage in the context of the needs of society 5.0. It could include analyse a selection of existing exhibitions and culture activities and their interactions with application of science and technology and attempt to define new models of use. These models should be as interdisciplinary as possible, based on the one hand on traditional methods of analysing phenomena and processes (including existing good practices and case studies), and on the other hand – using innovative analytical tools and research methodologies based on new technologies.

It is interesting question: it is possible to build a huge digital archive of human heritage, the advantages of and barriers to this and whether it is possible to experience a ‘museum’ in every home thanks to virtual technology?

I hope our project VX Designers could be a first step to think about the heritage in this way!

 

 

References:

[1] https://www.japan.go.jp/abenomics/_userdata/abenomics/pdf/society_5.0.pdf

[2]   Fukuyama M 2018 Society 5.0: Aiming for a new human-centered society, Japan Spotlight 37

https://www.jef.or.jp/journal/pdf/220th_Special_Article_02.pdf

[3] Research ‘Technologia w służbie społeczeństwu. Czy Polacy zostaną społeczeństwem 5.0?’ https://www.digitalpoland.org/assets/publications/technologia-w-sluzbie-spoleczenstwu-czy-polacy-zostana-spoleczenstwem-50-edycja-2020/society-50-tech4society-edycja-2020-digitalpoland.pdf

[4]  The Louvre currently has 7 virtual galleries on display https://www.louvre.fr/en/online-tours#tabs

[5]  This site brings together in a single virtual space nearly 700 online content proposals from 500 cultural and artistic actors throughout France: exhibitions, museums, films, documentaries,  podcasts, concerts, plays, books, video games, artistic practice  https://www.culturecheznous.gouv.fr/

[6]  A digital game application that allows players to design their own art space with modular

architectural blocks, with over 2,300 architectural assets and thousands more ‘under construction’.

Is a good example of digital exhibition curation, already used by Birmingham Museum & Art

Gallery (BMAG), making it the first official museum to partner with the AI-driven art platform

that allows users to explore a growing fantasy world of art https://www.oww.io/

[7] Using virtual reality in museums in Cyprus and examining the visitor’s experience and percep­tions. The project focused on VR and its application to cultural heritage https://vsmslab.com/project/virtual-reality-in-museums-exploring-the-experiences-of-museum-professionals-2019-2020/

[8] This research center focuses on emerging technologies & producing interactive solutions for various sectors and topics. They currently run a project where they experiment with different technologies such as augmented/mixed reality, virtual reality and holographic representations for museum

exhibitions in Cyprus https://www.cyens.org.cy/en-gb/research/projects/

[9] Simon Thurley, Into the future. Our stategy for 2005-2010. In: Conservation Bulletin [English Heritage], 2005

[10] Feilden B.M., Conservation of historic buildings, Oxford 2003

[11] Lowenthal D., Stewarding the past in a perplexing present, (w:) E. Avrami i R. Mason (red.), Values and heritage conservation, Los Angeles 2000 s. 20-23

[12] Alexenberg M., The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age

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The #VXdesigners project is co-financed by the ERASMUS+ programme of the European Union, and will be implemented from October 2020 to September 2022. This website and the project content reflects the views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. (Project code: 2020-1-BE01-KA201-074989).